Monday, November 25, 2013

Birthday Race Recap

The past few years I have lived in the DC area there has been a race that falls right around my birthday.   I loved this race because it was close by, had Georgetown cupcakes at the end, and last year they even had mimosas.  It was like they knew it was my birthday and planned the race just for me.  This year I kept looking and it never showed up on the calendar.  Then I learned that my beloved Pacers running store was closing (they were one of the sponsors, so I suspect it had something to do with the race not being held).

My birthday race last year.  Now that I think about it,
I wore almost the exact same thing this year. Talk about consistent.

I was really bummed until another race caught my eye--the Zoom at the Zoo 8k at the Maryland Zoo.  I've always wanted to do a run at a zoo--I'm OBSESSED with zoos and make a point to go if there's one near me in my travels.  My nice friend agreed to run the race with me as part of my birthday present and before I knew it, race day was here.

Even though I have officially completed four weeks of my half marathon training plan, I feel like my runs lately have been a little crappy.  I haven't quite gotten into the running groove yet even though I've consistently been doing around 5 mile runs.  My goal was to just relax and enjoy the race--no reason not to have a good time at my birthday celebration!

When we got to the zoo it was 25 degrees.  I layered up in my favorite long sleeve Under Armour tech shirt, my Brooks pullover, and a zip up hoodie.  Getting our race numbers, shirts, and chips was fast and easy and I really like my race shirt.  They had a dark blue for men and a light blue for women.  I'm a big fan of shirts that actually fit well!  Waiting for the race was ridiculously chilly, but once we started I warmed up and didn't really notice the cold.  The first part of the race was a little crowded but opened up a little once we got to the nearby park.  The first two miles felt like they went by quickly and  they had a water stop right before the 2 mile mark.  Right before mile 4 there was a monster of a hill and I was so glad that they had put a water stop at the end so I could catch my breath a little!  We kept hearing people talking about the big hill at mile 4, and man were they right!  Much to my dismay there was another little hill around the bend from the water stop, but I managed to haul myself up without too much trouble.

Most of the zoo part of the run was around the service areas, so it was a nice path, but you didn't run by many animals.  The parts that did go by the animals were a little disappointing because it was so cold and not many were out!  We did get to run by a couple of cheetahs which made me really happy (yay animal sightings!) and we joked that they were going to release them to make us "earn our spots" like our race shirts said!

As we rounded a corner around mile 4.5 there were volunteers cheering (THANK YOU!!! for standing out in the cold!  The volunteers were troopers and it was so nice to have their support!) and telling us that there was one last uphill and then we were done.  Not gonna lie, that last hill about did me in.  I had it in my mind that the worst of the hills were over and it would be smooth sailing from there.  I felt every last step of the race and can't say it was my strongest finish ever.  The race ended up going a little long (4.99 according to my Garmin), but I'm not really one to care about distances being exact since I'm the true definition of a run for fun kind of girl.

After we finished we got a chilly (yet delicious) muffin from Corner Bakery and then went back to the car to warm up a little before layering up some more to explore the zoo.  Part of the race entry included a pass to the zoo for the day and we didn't want to pass up a chance to see the animals just because of the cold!  We ended up having a great day together (and probably stayed in the indoor exhibits much longer than we would have on a warmer day!).

Do the animals that were out and about surprise you? :)

I'm definitely looking forward to running in the race in future years!  Thanks again to the Maryland Zoo for a great event!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rugged Maniac DC Recap

So it's been a few weeks since the race, but it didn't feel right to not give the Rugged Maniac 5k a recap since all my other races have gotten one!  Let me just start by saying that after doing the Run Amuck a few years ago I really didn't have any desire to do another mud/obstacle race.  It was ok and I had fun, but let's be real.  I'm not really good at things that involve athletic ability, strength, or balance.  It's fine, it's just not my forte.  When my nice friend asked me to sign up (his work was making a team) I felt that I should because he's always been so supportive of my running.  I was really nervous leading up to the race because I wasn't sure if I would have anyone to run with (he's way faster and competitive) and after looking at the obstacles on the website I had this sense of impending doom.

I will say that whoever is behind the Rugged Maniac Twitter account is a lot of fun.  Anytime I posted something about it they would reply with a humorous answer.  I'm a sucker for races that interact with me.  Their light hearted responses made me feel a little better and I figured I would just kinda go with the flow and hope for the best.  (Another perk that I guess goes along with their social media is that all photos that are taken during the race are free to download--pretty sweet for a girl trying to blog her recap, right?)

The beer was worth hauling my own butt over the walls. 

We arrived at the race site plenty early (we were in the 10:30 wave so we didn't have to leave insanely early!) and the check in was one of the most efficient I had ever seen.  We got our race packets and checked a bag and still had a lot of time to look around, hang out with his coworkers, and watch other racers finish some of the obstacles.  We had the most gorgeous day for a race (sunny and in the low 60s) which was definitely encouraging.  The last mud run I did it was cloudy and in the 40s which was not so fun!

When it was finally time to head to the start I found a wall blocking the area.  I had a mini panic and made my nice friend wait until I got over in case I needed a boost.  Luckily I made it with only mild embarrassment (hauling this butt over walls is no easy feat) and we proceeded to wait for the starting horn.  There was all this intense,  loud music, which I think was supposed to pump you up but only made me a little more nervous.  When the obstacle before the race even starts almost gets you, you know you're in trouble!!

While we were waiting for the start, a few of the girls in the group and I got to talking and we decided we would stick together and make it through.  I ended up only running with one of the other girls for the majority of the race, but towards the end we met up with some of the other girls in the group.  It was definitely more fun having the support of a group!  The girl I ran with was INCREDIBLE.  She helped me through so many of the obstacles (literally holding my hand or waiting for me to switch over to the other side of walls--I'm ok climbing up, but switching is the WORST).

A lot of the obstacles were walls (some I literally just kind of threw my body at and hoped the momentum would make me fall over to the other side haha!), there were some mud mounds and mud pits you had to run through/over, some trenches to jump over, some mud pits where you had to crawl under barbed wire, a beam over 3 feet of water you had to balance across (hence the hand holding), some fire you had to jump over (not as scary as it sounds), and probably the worst part was this dark, narrow, underground tunnel you had to maneuver through.

This girl literally walked backwards to keep me from falling.  She is awesome.
Thanks, Rugged Maniac for the pic!

Don't be fooled, I did skip the very tallest walls.  My shoes were a muddy, slippery mess, and since I had done every other wall leading up to them I didn't feel the need to prove something anymore.  I hate heights with a passion and I figured there was no need to stress myself out over something that I was doing simply for fun.  There were a couple of walls that made me really nervous, but the race had volunteers to help you and make sure you didn't fall.  As a girl that has about 0 coordination I really appreciated this!  The steeper parts of the mud pits and tubes you had to crawl up had ropes you could hold on to haul yourself up.  If I ever do another one of these I am definitely investing in some spandex capris.  The gravel at the bottom of the mud pit hurt SO bad and my shorts may have ridden up more than anyone appreciated in certain parts of the race.  Oops.

The end of the race was a lot of fun.  You had to climb up a wall and then up a rope ladder/wall and then you got to slide down a huge water slide into a pit of muddy water.  My nice friend got a nice muddy hug before we headed to the hoses to rinse off.  I thought they would be more crowded, but we walked right up to the make shift showers.  The race did a great job of organizing how many people would be in each wave because nothing ever felt too crowded.  I only had to wait a minute or two at a few of the obstacles, but most of them I was able to just go right through.  After rinsing off the best that we could and changing in the big tents they had available we got to enjoy our post race beer.  I was happy to see Harpoon was the brewery and enjoyed the Oktoberfest and IPA they had available (one free beer came with your race entry and all others were 5 dollars).  They had plenty of food and I "shared" a sandwich with my nice friend.  Being a Rugged Maniac is hard work!

So much fun!

The rest of the day was pretty much spent icing and sleeping on the couch.  I was so incredibly sore for the few days after the race and a few weeks later my huge bruises are just now starting to fade.  I think more graceful people probably didn't look quite as rough as I did after, but apparently my approach to obstacles was on the more painful side!


Thanks to the Rugged Maniac race series for a great race!  While I probably won't be gracing the event as a participant again (two "adventure" runs is plenty for this girl), I was overall very happy with the event and had a great morning!  Congratulations to all of you BA finishers!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Training Plan Updates

As I mentioned in my last post, I started a training plan a few weeks ago.  When I ran the Disney Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Crawlin' Crab Half a year ago I followed one of the training plans on the Run Disney website.  While I'm sure there was probably a run or two that didn't go exactly to plan, I felt really strong throughout both races.  They were just really good and solid and I felt proud at the end knowing that I had done my best.

Yay running!

Since the Inaugural Crawlin' Crab, I have completed two half marathons.  Neither were anything to brag about.  Yes, I finished and that's an accomplishment, but I knew I could do so much more.  Because race fees can be insanely expensive, I decided that before I register for the next one I am going to put in two months of a training plan.  If I am sticking to the plan and it's starting to feel good, I will register.  If I miss runs and am not giving it my all then I will wait until I can find it in myself to really commit.

Right now I am ending the third week and things have been going really well.  Most of my runs have taken place outside (although I'm debating how many treadmill runs I should aim for...more on this later) and so far I have put in over 37 miles which is a good start.  I don't want to rush and do too much too fast and get hurt.  My longest run so far has been 6 miles, and while it was MISERABLE, it got done. (Just a side note, pretty much every other run has felt great.)

I'm trying to be smart and get some cross training in there, too, but I figure if I'm at least hitting all my runs I'll be in good shape.  Right now I'm loving the Nike Training Club App because of the 15 minute targeted workouts.  They are good ones, too!  My arms are so sore right now from last night's workout!

You guys know that I have weird guilt over leaving Maddux, but I've done my best to remedy this by planning my runs accordingly.  Right now I put two of my runs on the weekend and the third can be completed any time during the week.  There are a few weeks where I had to adjust based on my personal schedule, but knowing I just have one run I have to finish after work makes it a lot easier (especially now that it gets dark so early!).  I'm also trying to put myself first for one of the weekend days and Maddux first on the other day.  For example, last week I went out and did my run and then took Maddux on his long walk of the day and then the next day I took Maddux to a park first and then did my run.  Gotta make sure I don't neglect the pup!

Perfect day to explore a new trail with my boy!

I think the fact that I made my schedule as flexible as possible and that I worked around some stuff I already knew I had planned that I'll be in pretty good shape.  I just don't know if I have another disappointing race in me right now.  Obviously there's no telling how I'll feel in a few weeks, but if I still want it as bad then as I do now I think I'm going to have an amazing race.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random Thoughts Wednesday

So I've had a lot of things I've wanted to talk about, but I haven't really had time to do each one justice. I figured I'd get a quick list down and then expand on them later. First up....

Falling back and getting an extra hour of sleep was great, but now can we spring forward? Seriously guys, running in the dark is not an option for this girl.  Call me chicken, but I just don't feel like it's the safest option.  Treadmill it is on week nights!  Woo!

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me is the best way way to endure the treadmill.  It lasts just about the time it takes me to run 5 miles and keeps me laughing and entertained, PLUS it keeps me up to date on news headlines.  I literally almost fell off the treadmill because I was laughing so hard last night.  Pretty sure my fellow gym members think I'm the weirdest chick alive.

The gym kind of annoys me sometimes. I prefer running outside (especially now that I'm getting braver and conquering my long runs outside!) and since I use the small fitness center and not a real gym it comes with problems that bigger gyms don't have.  Last night a mom brought in her kid.  I get that it's hard to workout when you're worrying about a small child, but he screamed and cried and pitched a royal fit for SO long before the mom took him outside.  Also, only one treadmill works.  It's annoying, but hey, what can we do.

After one use, I'm already in love with the Nike Training Club App.  My abs were burning last night!  I love how it plays your music and counts down for you.  Plus, it has step by step on how to do each move and even videos if you still don't get it after reading.

The Women's Nike Half Marathon lottery is open!  I LOVED this race last year even though I hadn't trained at all.  Initially I swore I was only going to do it once (the price tag is pretty steep), but it was such a great experience that I quickly changed my mind.  This year there's all this drama concerning the Tiffany's finisher necklace (go read the Nike Facebook page if you want a good laugh.  There are some heated debates about whether or not the necklace is a good reason to run).  Not gonna lie, all of that nonsense is kind of turning me off to the race.  Getting that blue box at the end was really fun (and probably the only way this girl is getting it!) and I just can't spend that kind of money when there are so many other great races out there, ya know?  As of right now I'm not planning on entering, but I have a couple of weeks to change my mind!

I have my eye on another race.   I KNOW I swore off longer distances, but what can I say, I'm still in need of a great half.  I started a training plan last week (more on that later) and I decided if I stick to it and am making progress after week 8 then I will sign up for the race.  So far it's been really good!

I'm ready for my bruises from the Rugged Maniac to go away.  I'll have a full recap later on.  It was a fun day, but man do I look like I lost a fight.

STARBUCKS RED CUPS ARE HERE!  Peppermint mocha.  'Nuff said.